Online ethnography of breastfeeding discussions in social networking sites for Hong Kong mothers

Toma Chun Yip WONG, Karene Hoi Ting YEUNG, Venera R. KHALIKOVA, Lai Ling HUI, Ka Ming CHOW, Esther Yuet Ying LAU, E. Anthony S. NELSON

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review


With the growth of social networking, parents are increasingly sharing their experiences and opinions or seeking help with childcare through online platforms. This study explored breastfeeding-related topics that Hong Kong mothers raise on social networking sites and how other mothers respond; and how these sites could be a facilitator or barrier to breastfeeding. An online ethnographic approach was used to collect breastfeeding-related discussions (posts and responses) among mothers from three sources: two closed moderated Facebook groups with more than 1000 members, and one open unmoderated forum (Baby Kingdom) (26 December 2021–26 May 2022). Posts not related to breastfeeding (e.g., about formula feeding only) were excluded. Data were collected by a nonparticipatory approach to avoid disrupting the dynamics of the groups. In total, 131 original posts and their 802 responses were collected, of which the common topics discussed were breastfeeding technique, breastfeeding-related health issues, breastfeeding mothers returning to work, and COVID-19 vaccination/infection during breastfeeding. The responses to the queries on breastfeeding technique and health issues in the closed groups were mostly about sharing breastfeeding knowledge and health information to provide timely emotional support and practical solutions. Although similar responses were observed in the open forum, sharing experiences in using formula milk were frequently observed in the responses to posts related to breastfeeding. Social networking sites could be facilitators and barriers to breastfeeding. The potential for infant formula promotion in open forums requires further monitoring and evaluation. Moderation and support from trained professionals or peers could be important. Copyright © 2023 The Authors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)843-850
JournalFood Science & Nutrition
Issue number2
Early online dateNov 2023
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2024


Wong, T. C. Y., Yeung, K. H. T., Khalikova, V. R., Hui, L. L., Chow, K. M., Lau, E. Y. Y., & Nelson, E. A. S. (2024). Online ethnography of breastfeeding discussions in social networking sites for Hong Kong mothers. Food Science & Nutrition, 12(2), 843-850.


  • Breastfeeding
  • Hong Kong
  • Online ethnography
  • Social networking sites


Dive into the research topics of 'Online ethnography of breastfeeding discussions in social networking sites for Hong Kong mothers'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.